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The Eye of the Heron

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,042 ratings  ·  194 reviews
In Victoria on a former prison colony, two exiled groups--the farmers of Shantih and the City dwellers--live in apparent harmony. All is not as it seems, however. While the peace-loving farmers labor endlessly to provide food for the City, the City Bosses rule the Shantih with an iron fist. When a group of farmers decide to from a new settlement further away, the Bosses ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 15th 2003 by Starscape (first published 1978)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  2,042 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Lisa Butterworth
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was just a tiny little novel, but just packed with stuff I love. Individual characters, compelling and interesting, but also embodying different political dogmas, the plot itself so packed with inherent symbolism that it shouldn't have been so light and natural. All coming together in a clean fast believable push through another world with the goal of freedom. It was beautiful.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Ursula Le Guin manages to pack a lot into just-shy-of 180 pages in a story about two communities struggling to survive and co-exist on a penal colony. One community, the City, was settled by war criminals, rebels against an Earth government. In the century or so since their arrival on Victoria, theyve recreated the hierarchical, patriarchal, exploitative society theyd known on Earth. Fifty years after their arrival, the People of the Peace fall out of the sky (figuratively). They, too, have been ...more
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ursula Le Guin's The Eye of the Heron looks like an easy, short book. My copy is quite slim, the writing is a reasonable size, and the prose is as polished as hers always is, and it's easy to read. There are some absolutely amazing quotes, that I loved to read just for the perspective she always brings to the discussion. These are the ones that struck me the most (in parts of them, description has been taken out to make them more universal).

a. "You know, if we sit in the back room, with babies
Michael Campbell
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I literally just bought this book, because it had the name Ursula K Le Guin on it. I didn't even read the synopsis before starting it.

I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but this book proves you shouldn't judge one by it's size either. It covered so much in such a small book. Literally less than 200 pages with fairly large lettering.

Gender roles are explored and discussed somewhat, but the real meat of the novel is the study on pacifism. I've read other books that attempted to
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another insightful novella, packed with politics, human rights, gender and class discrimination, philosophy and very sensorial descriptions.
Quite a good and quick read.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading Ursula K Le Guin is like coming in from a very cold day to a snug house and eating a warm slice of cherry pie with a glass of milk. The Eye of the Heron was written in 1978, but nearly four decades later it is still not only intensely relevant but eerily prophetic. Le Guin's writing is wonderfully evocative-she is able to build an entire alien world with its' own ecology and society in less than one hundred and eighty pages. To borrow a word from another reviewer she writes with ...more
There was a moment early on in this novel when I was worried that the Leguin I love so dearly had checked out while writing The Eye of the Heron.

It was two moments at once, actually: Luz, the main character, began to feel like a Disney Princess, just as the Shantih Towners -- the "People of Peace" -- and their non-violent philosophy looked as thought it was going to end up in the realm of fantastical naiveté. But this is Leguin -- not some easily fooled adolescent or some money hungry crafter
Aug 17, 2008 added it
Shelves: sf
The people of the City arrived on the planet Victoria by one-way spaceship, exiled from Earth, convicted criminals. Many years later the People of the Peace arrive in the last such spaceship, also exiled, but by choice. They form a town and call it Shantih, but the people of the City call it Shanty - deftly contrasting the views of the City folk and the townfolk. Over time the People of the Peace have become the peasants of a feudal society in microcosm but now confrontation is coming. The ...more
Julia Morelli
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-on-paper
I took a while to review this book because it was hard to rate. It's a solidly good book, but I get the feeling that it ended at an odd point.

As usual in Le Guin's work, although the story takes place in a futuristic sci-fi enviroment the focus is on people, their feelings, their beliefs, etc. I love this about her writing, can't get tired of it really.

This story takes place on a jail-planet where no one can leave, decades after the first colones/prisioners arrived. Due to spoilery motives, a
Ryan Rebel
Jun 21, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Of the three Ursula K. Le Guin books I read in quick succession, this was my least favorite. I didn't particularly love any of them, although I did enjoy A Wizard of Earthsea. It was much more, shall we say, exciting than The Eye of the Heron.

It's not that it's an awful book. I don't quite know what went wrong, but whatever it was, it severely hampered my enjoyment. I would say that I was bored with this book, although it had its moments. I couldn't even tell you what bored me--the concept was
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Inspiring view on nonviolent resistance- for the sake of conscience, and the answer being to adjust what you may classify as 'successful.'
Ericka Clouther
A book about oppression, freedom, immigration, non-violence, and violence disguised as an easy-to-read YA fantasy book. The writing is really lovely.
Mira | I Read Like Phoebe Runs
Eerie and magical. There was something about the atmosphere throughout the entire book... It's hard to put into words, but oh boy did I enjoy it.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ralph Jones
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
Ursula K. Le Guin has, again, proved herself to be one of the notable female science-fiction authors in our time. She wrote The Eye of the Heron to prove that women do not have to act like a man to assume roles that are always dominated by men.

The Eye of the Heron is about the inhabitants of planet Victoria. The planet received its first residents who are the descendants of criminals (City), and then some time later, the second batch of residents came; they are descendants of political exiles
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Rather on the nose, but a compelling little novella. Her descriptions of nature are wonderful and evocative but unfortunately underutilized.
Holly Walrath
This little book is a comforting foray into Le Guins masterful land of imagination. Her writing is so clear, Like a running river. You feel for Luz even though she, as a character, starts out as the enemy. How Le Guin manages social distinctions in a brand new world is what amazes me most about this book. But mostly I love her voice, the attention to domesticity and elevation of that art, and the deft handling of human emotion. ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ursula gives me the desired deep political philosophy through fiction that feeds my soul.
William Leight
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
All novels are political in some sense: as Orwell said, "all art is propaganda . . . ." The second half of that statement is that "not all propaganda is art", and that's the danger for any novelist wishing to write an explicitly political novel. All too often, what you end up with is a rather obvious allegory, in which the good guys are entirely good and inevitably correct and the bad guys completely evil and always wrong. This trick is difficult enough to pull off in an epic fantasy setting ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something about the way this book is written that makes me feel like I am melting and crystalizing at once. The only other time I have felt like this was reading another Le Guin work, "The Left Hand of Darkness", a book highly recommended by a good friend.

"The Eye of the Heron" has a story that is good but simple. What really struck me were the descriptions of the flora and fauna of the planet known as Victoria. In particular, the ringtrees and the wotsits.

As with "The Left Hand of
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nietzsche's Will to Power written as a short story. Peace-loving pacifist farmers (Nietzsche's lambs) tell themselves that peaceful resistance is the way to solve any problem--that their ideals are pure. And for the most part, these are very sympathetic and persuasive characters.

Then, however, there are the urbanite bosses (Nietzsche's birds of prey) who run the state and demand the fealty and servitude of the farmers.

While the characters and ideas are relatable, important, and well-written,
May 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This is one of the weaker - if not the the weakest - LeGuin book that I've yet read.

Not to see that it was bad, just that I found myself skimming more than usual and just a little bored. About halfway through I knew that the way the book ended would seal it as either terrible or passable, as it looked like it was heading in one of two ways, both of which I found to be a little too simplistic. Thankfully, she didn't take either of those paths and so I wasn't quite disappointed...just a little
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Le Guin has developed yet another peaceful society on another planet. This one, though, originated on Earth many years into our future. The Victoria Settlement was at first a penal colony, but about 50 years later The People of the Peace were sent. Obviously, theres a lot of conflict between the two groups. The latest confrontation has arisen because the Peace People would like to start another settlement. The criminal descendants dont want to let them go because they do a lot of the menial ...more
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Victoria is an alien world, colonized through the blood and sweat of convicts and political dissidents. When the men of power push too far, a group dedicated to peace decides en masse to oppose them. A very interesting look at the good and bad aspects of pacifism as a way of life. I wish this was at least twice as long--the denoument felt rushed.
Irene Grumman
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not exactly a heron, because we're not exactly on Earth. Issues of power and identity play out yet again in a small community on a big, empty planet. A Le Guin work I hadn't encountered before, copyright 1978, "Heron" reflects contemporary concerns in feminism.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an engrossing short novel. If you love Le Guin, you'll enjoy this.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe that I'm only reading Ursula K. LeGuin now. This grave mistake shall be duly rectified.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
It felt like the whole book was just setting up the premise for a story that never happened.
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This short, YA novel first appeared in an anthology edited by Virginia Kidd, called _Millenial Women_. The credits in the edition I have refers to the anthology as "Millenium Woman."

Anyway. It takes place on Victoria, a world to which Earth has sent two waves of prisoner-colonists. The first group, a bunch of political criminals, founded the City. The second group, pacifistic idealists, founded Shantih and other, smaller farming towns outside the City.

Several decades later...

The people of the
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This thin volume was everything I hoped for and expected from Ursula. Two groups of people from a conflict-ridden Earth are sent to colonize a remote planet that becomes a microcosm for two very different tendencies and potentials of our species to try to coexist. They are personified as the people of the city and the people of the town- the proud, domineering, Colonizers in the traditional sense and the communitarian villagers who commit themselves to democratic decision-making and a principled ...more
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Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, ...more

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